JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Mexico will ask the U.S. government to extradite 18 relatives, business partners and past officials who served under former Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte, a Juarez lawyer said on Monday.
Special counsel Jorge Espinoza Cortes also said the state of Chihuahua has recouped $25 million in stolen funds through the seizure of property and other assets and hopes to recover much more through civil lawsuits in both Mexico and the United States.
“We have seized ranches, farm machines and other assets that are expected to go through auction,” Espinoza said. In the United States, “civil action is ongoing regarding 49 properties the former governor purchased in Texas. We are still to identify other properties he (bought) in New Mexico and Florida.”
Duarte is in a Miami jail awaiting the outcome of his extradition hearing in connection with charges in Mexico that he conspired to embezzle more than $100 million in public funds between 2010 and 2016.
The former governor has denied the charges and is fighting the extradition request.
Duarte and co-conspirators set up bogus purchases and channeled millions in cattle-production subsidies to themselves, according to a federal indictment in Mexico.
“These are people who were part of the former governor’s inner circle, individuals who were in a position of power during the previous administration as well as business people who participated in the embezzlement of millions” in the alleged scheme, Espinoza said.
The Juarez lawyer contracted by the state to monitor the procedures and bring the alleged co-conspirators to justice in Chihuahua declined to name those who’ll be part of the extradition request. However, Duarte’s wife, Bertha Gomez de Duarte, is an alleged co-conspirator who Mexican authorities believe is in the United States.
Espinoza said he was in touch with U.S. federal officials last Friday and was told to expect a decision on the extradition request by November. If granted, Duarte could be back in Mexico in December to face the charges.